- What we know The landmark MacArthur Study of Successful Aging established that people with strong social connections enjoy better health. Other studies have since shown that this translates into longer life. But having good relationships matters more than seeing friends or relatives often. "The support of solid relationships boosts immune function," says Dr. Small. Marriage may be the most important relationship: Studies consistently find that married people live longer about four years more for women, 10 for men, say researchers from the University of Chicago.
- What you can do: Confide in your spouse. In research from Columbia and Yale, elderly women who'd had children and who named their husbands as their primary confidant reduced their risk of dying over the next six years. What's more, men lived longer (continuing to provide that life-extending support) when they felt their wives needed them.
Keep Your Brain Young
The glut of information on the Internet can seem mind-numbing, but the stimulation you get from wading through it exercises your brain, which may keep it more youthful. UCLA scientists who connected older Web surfers (all were 55 and up) to a brain-scanning MRI machine found that searching the Internet, like reading a book, stimulates areas of the brain responsible for language, memory, visual ability, and comprehension. But clicking through online sites goes a step further, triggering parts of the brain that handle decision-making and complex reasoning as well. And the more you do, the greater the benefit: Experienced Web surfers had twice as much brain activity as novices.